How Art and Music Can Change the World

Images, videos and presentation dates

October, 2012: The Listener graphic novel by David Lester and material from Jean Smith’s two recently completed novels will be presented in classrooms, art galleries and libraries on the west coast.

June, 2011: Jean Smith created an adaptation of David Lester’s graphic novel The Listener to present on a book launch tour in Canada. The lecture, power point art exhibit and performance event included Mecca Normal.

2002 – 2010: How Art and Music Can Change the World was developed as a lecture, art exhibit and performance event for university classrooms, bookstores and community centres. Jean Smith and David Lester of the underground literary rock duo Mecca Normal intended to inspire audiences towards considering political content in their creative self-expression. “Who cares if there’s underground culture or not? Gap-Coke-Sony-Time-Warner satisfies our needs… don’t they?”

Referring to their extraordinary 25 year history in music, art and publishing Jean Smith and David Lester illustrate the reality of being artists and cultural activists, by revealing the behind-the-scenes workings of their long-standing D-I-Y collaboration. Jean and David de-mystify the work methods and philosophies that define their collaborative partnership, touring, writing and publishing, making art and music.

“How Art and Music Can Change The World” combines a seasoned performance-based pedagogy with a raw emotional and lyrical intensity – a culmination (so far) of the rock solid artistic integrity that has made Mecca Normal into an underground legend in its own time. –Ron Sakolsky, a scholar covering the intersection of music, revolution and radio. Read the entire review.

University and College Classrooms • Youth Centres • Art Galleries • Literary Events • Book Stores • Libraries • Community Centres

Internationally, David Lester and Jean Smith are best known for their work as Mecca Normal. The band has released thirteen CDs on the most significant independent labels (Matador, Kill Rock Stars, K Records). In a four-star album review Rolling Stone Magazine said: ” …vocalist Jean Smith and guitarist David Lester have presented a consistent, evolving and luminous challenge to the reigning social order – what Smith calls a false machine in motion/Passing through the clouds.”

David Lester is a well-respected visual artist with 35 years experience. Jean Smith, the author of two published novels, was named one of Vancouver’s top 50 writers.

“Arguably the greatest rock band without a rhythm section ever, the duo of acid-voiced singer Jean Smith and guitar hero David Lester must be seen to be believed.” – Douglas Wolk

Mecca Normal’s music is paradoxically intuitive and highly stylized. Smith is an extraordinary rock poet delivering compact short stories from her next book. Lester’s adventurous guitar playing creates a sonic equivalent to Smith’s voice – a language all his own.

Jean says, “Mecca Normal has done thousands of interviews over the years to raise issues of cultural, political and social concern. Our presentation is structured to bring that content forward – without the interviewer. We’ve broken out of performance-only mode to introduce our thoughts on motivation, inspiration, and longevity. Touring artists who promote systemic change are valuable to the basis of society. We refuse to be buried in the entertainment glut.”

Mecca Normal has a long history of co-ordinating and promoting events for artists determined to create social change. Their original touring enterprise was the late 80s Black Wedge – a group of poets and minimalist musicians who toured in Canada, the US and England.